Wednesday, 18 September 2013

What's wrong with clichés?



Trevor from Leeds wants to use clichés because he feels they do the job. He asks: are clichés really that bad? My writing group members are forever banging on about them, but sometimes they get across exactly what I want to say.

Yes, they clichés really are that bad. They are phrases that were once fresh and new, but are now stale and tired. To make your writing stand out and bring your own unique voice to life, you need to create your own original expressions. The words and phrases you use have to help flesh out your characters and also make the narrative sparkle.

You might well have a character speaking in clichés and there is nothing wrong with that. You’d be using it as a character quirk. But if the narrative is littered with clichés, or more than one character uses them, that is a sign of lazy writing.

Be bold – create your own similes and metaphors. You never know, in years to come your phrases might be so frequently used that they will be classed as clichés. After all, when Shakespeare and all the other great writers wrote what are now considered clichés, they were then original and fresh. It’s because they so exactly fitted the characters and situations that the phrases have been used over and over again.

As a writer, it’s your job to use words to the best effect. This means being innovative and allowing your voice to come through via your use of words.

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